My sister came down to visit me for a week (how nice of her!). And, since one of her favorite things to do is take afternoon tea, I decided to take her to one of the most well-known places in the city: L'Orangerie at the Alvear Palace Hotel. For most tourists, this hotel restaurant would probably never be on the todo list. It would likely be intentionally excluded because it's so "not Argentine." Sure, it is true L'Orangerie is not known for its yerba mate nor for its authentic parilla grill. But, because it's often so avoided by tourists for the precise reason that it's not Argentine, the restaurant was full of local Argentine families and couples looking to get dressed up for an afternoon and dine in European style. Ironically, of all the restaurants in the city, this hotel restaurant might be one of the most authentic windows into well-to-do Argentine society.
Afternoon tea is prix-fixe, which includes unfettered access to the table of French pastries: fruit tortes, mille feuille, dark chocolate cherry and passion fruit cakes, flan, pistachio cookies, tiramisu, pot de creme, and more. Certainly not the place for dieters, people who lack self-control, or those who have a "one of everything ... just to try" policy (me).
It was explained to me that the types of pastries change daily and seasonally; but that warning aside, the dark chocolate cherry cake was phenomenal. Made with rich dark chocolate and black cherries with just a pinch of fleur de sel, this cake was moist and incredibly balanced. The selection of international teas was also equally impressive.
While this afternoon splurge certainly left a hole in my wallet (70 pesos, $23 U$D), I'd recommend it for anyone who wants an afternoon break from traditional Argentine food. Just be sure to dress up a little, or you might get stares as I did in my jeans and hoodie.